My mother advised me years ago “don’t go grey, go blond.” So when those grey beacons starting lighting up my dark hair, I remembered my Mom’s sage advice.
At 84, Mom is frail and in a nursing home. She is living with her 89-year-old boyfriend. She says she has no intension of getting married, but she did make him buy her an engagement ring. She speaks her mind and can play an audience like a fine instrument with well-timed comments. She knows that if she talks about sex, drops the f-bomb or gives someone the middle finger that she’ll get a reaction. No one expects this from a sweet little old Southern Baptist lady with a walker. She’ll tell you she doesn’t smoke or drink, but she’ll tell you with a twinkle in her eye, “So I lie”.
Despite her occasional lie, she is my model on how to age. Whoever said, “Getting old is not for sissies,” was correct. I’ve learned by watching my mom how to pick yourself up when life knocks you down and to stand tall with grace and humor.
I was catching her up on her 22-year–old granddaughter. She asked me if she had a boyfriend. When I said no, she responded that maybe she should get a girlfriend. Apparently Dr. Phil has said this is perfectly okay. While it doesn’t matter to me if my daughter prefers men or women, the fact that it doesn’t matter to my mom either is something I take real pride in. I hope that as the decades pass and I get older that I stay as open to the changing world around me.
Not only have I inherited my mom’s sense of humor, I’ve also inherited her klutziness. My mom and I, as well as my daughter, all have issues with the ability to stay upright. My friends know I’m not known for my grace and my dancing has even been compared to Elaine’s from Seinfeld. Not that it has ever stopped me from dancing to my own beat.
From my female lineage, age is clearly showcased in heel height. Mom, much to her chagrin, is in orthopedic shoes these days. After a recent tumble, she cut her hand bad enough to get it sutured. She had the ER staff in stitches as she regaled them with stories of her love life in the nursing home. “Yes, those nursing aides come in all during the day and night trying to catch me and my fiancé doing it!”
My own acknowledgement of age also has to do with the lowering of my heel height. I gave away my high heels for my fortieth birthday, but by my fiftieth I was divorced and feeling sexy again, so I was back in shoes that made me about 4 inches taller. However, now that I’m half way through my fifties, I must recognize that I have a tendency to fall off those beautiful, sexy high heels. I was warned with my last purchase of an adorable pair of towering platforms that I was likely to take a fall. Sure enough, on my second outing, I found myself face down, spread eagle in a hot parking lot. And unlike a toddler with skinned knees, my knees and bones no longer heal fast. So along with going blond, I’ve now gone to flats.
As I grow older, I’ve stumbled upon a few things. I no longer care if people see me fall down, literally or symbolically. Most of my stumbles are funny and I’m the first to laugh at myself. And if I tumble too hard, I welcome the hands that pick me up again.
Neither my mom or I will ever be described as graceful, but I’ve learned from her to accept aging graciously with a wicked twinkle in my eye. I think I’ll keep those cute tall Spring shoes. My mom and I also like to repurpose things. I should be able to turn them into a flowerpot.